Study of 28,000 schoolchildren shows that starting school later enables adequate sleep

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Sleep Health | Sleep Review

A new study in SLEEP shows the significant benefits of late starting school for the sleep plans of middle and high school students.

Approximately 28,000 elementary, middle and high school students and parents conducted surveys annually before school start times were changed and two years after. Participating elementary schools started 60 minutes earlier, middle 40-60 minutes later, and high school 70 minutes later. Student and parent surveys asked separately about the typical sleep and wake-up times of the students on weekdays and weekends. In the surveys, the respondents were also asked to report on the sleep quality of the students and their experiences with daytime sleepiness.

The researchers found that the greatest improvements in these interventions were seen in students who received an additional 3.8 hours of sleep per week after the later start time was introduced. More than one in ten students reported improved sleep quality and one in five reported less daytime sleepiness. Average “weekend sleep” or extra weekend sleep among high schoolers dropped from just over two hours to 1.2 hours, suggesting that with enough weekday sleep, students no longer clinically deprived of sleep and are no longer forced to sleep feel “catching up”. at weekends. Similarly, middle school students received 2.4 additional hours of sleep per week with a later start to school. The researchers saw a 12% decrease in middle school students reporting daytime sleepiness. The percentage of elementary school students who reported adequate sleep duration, poor sleep quality or daytime sleepiness did not change during the course of the study.

[RELATED:Migraines & School Start Times: For Teens, Later School Start Can Yield Benefits Similar to Migraine Prevention Drugs]

The benefits of late tee times were similar across racial and socioeconomic groups, but survey results showed differences in weekday bed times. The authors encourage steps to be taken to “identify and improve systemic factors that contribute to these differences,” and recommend educational programs designed in collaboration with families to ensure that bedtime adjustment and increase guidelines are in place consider socio-cultural and environmental factors in sleeping options.

Previous studies have not simultaneously considered the impact of changing start times on sleep for students from kindergarten through 12th grade. This is a key factor in policy results as school districts need to postpone start times to accommodate transportation schedules.

“This study is notable for the large sample size, the involvement of elementary and middle school students, the two-year follow-up, and the reporting from students and parents,” say the authors. “It is also the strongest evidence to date that the postponement of primary school starting times to 8:00 am did not have any significant negative effects on students’ sleep or daytime sleepiness. As students revert to learning in person, it is important for districts to consider healthy start times for all students. “

Illustration 206106551 © Alexander Kharchenko – Dreamstime.com



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